Low FODMAP Diet Phase 1: Elimination

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Low FODMAP diet and food

Now you know a little bit about the low FODMAP diet in general, how it originated and what it helps against. Now you need to take the next great step and start up on the low FODMAP diet. That requires a change of lifestyle with a new every day diet and a lot of focus. On the bright side this will most definitely leave you without any symptoms and you will find out exactly what foods you react to.

First step is to exclude all so called high FODMAP foods from your diet, limit so called moderate FODMAP foods and only use low FODMAP foods and food amounts in your daily diet.

Low FODMAP – moderate FODMAP – high FODMAP

Maybe you already know what low FODMAP foods are, if you visited this website before, you probaly do because it is mentioned several times. But for those of you in doubt or not knowing yet, here is the explanation about low, moderate and high FODMAP foods. These three terms are essential knowledge if you want to have succes on the low FODMAP diet. I is called a low FODMAP food/diet because it contains a low amount of FODMAPs, which is a short term for 4 carbohydrate groups that exists in some amount in most foods. In the first phase of the diet you need to stay to foods with a low amount of FODMAPs.

One thing is knowing what low FODMAP food means, but how do you know what foods are low FODMAP? That question leads us to the first phase of the low FODMAP diet and the introduction of the traffic light system which is used for marking whether a food is low, moderate or high in amount of FODMAPs.

The traffic light system

On the low FODMAP diets phase 1 you part all foods in three categories: green, yellow and red, which is why we call it the traffic light system.

Red = High FODMAP: All foods that contain an amount of FODMAPs that is above the threshold for people with IBS.
Yellow = Moderate FODMAP: All foods that contain a moderate amount of FODMAP and therefore is limited to a maximum amount.
Green = Low FODMAP: All foods that contain a low amount of FODMAPs and therefore is tolerated by people with IBS.

It sounds easy, just look at what foods have what colors and direct your diet after that, but it is not that simple unfortunately, and also here many who start on the diet fails. The reason why this is not that simple is because the foods are put in to the traffic light system from the amount of FODMAPs a standard serving size contains. So only if you use a standard serving size of each food every time you use it, which is highly unlikely, you can use a standardized list of FODMAP foods.

What is a standard serving size?

Maybe the question: “what is a standard serving size?” crossed your mind already, if not it will so later on. So just to clarify that i am going to address it now. A standard serving size do not have one definition and it varies from food to food, and can also vary from country to country. For example a … has a standard serving size of … and a … has a standard serving size of …

As default all FODMAP lists determine if a food is low, moderate or high FODMAP from the amount of FODMAPs a standard serving size contains. However a standard serving size can be red, but if you use a lesser amount of that food it can become yellow (moderate FODMAP amount) or even green (low FODMAP amount). To clarify what this mens for the traffic light system, i have written more about what a red food, yellow food and green food is below.

Red foods

When a food is red it means that a standard serving size of that food contains a high amount of FODMAPs and therefore should be avoided/excluded on the low FODMAP diet. However when a food is red and considered high FODMAP it does not always mean that all serving sizes of that food is high FODMAP. A higher amount will always be high FODMAP, but a lesser amount can be moderate even low in FODMAPs and therefore tolerated. Below is an example of a food where this is the case.

Example: Artichoke

An artichoke is red, high FODMAP, in a standard serving size of 75 grams, but in lower amounts it will be both moderate and low in FODMAPs and is therefore a perfect example of a food that as a starting point is no go on the diet, but if you understand how the diet works and use a good low FODMAP diet list you can still use these foods on the diet. 18 grams of artichoke is moderate in FODMAPs and 15 grams af low FODMAP.

Yellow foods

When a food is yellow it means a standard serving size of that food contain moderate amount of FODMAPs, and therefore should be limited to that amount. However a yellow food can also contain a moderate amount of FODMAPs in larger serving sizes and it can even be low FODMAP in smaller serving sizes. But a larger serving size than a standard serving size can also become red because the amount of FODMAPs is getting too high. Below is an example of a food where this is the case.

Example: Green Bell Pepper

Green bell pepper is moderate in a standard serving size, but if you increase the amount to 80 grams it will be high in FODMAPs (Sorbitol) and if you decrease the serving size to 52 grams it will be low in FODMAPs. Therefore you must limit your use of green bell pepper to a max. of 75 grams and 52 grams you will be sure the amount of FODMAPs is not too high.

Green foods

When a food is green it means a standard serving size contains a low amount of FODMAPs and can be tolerated by all individuals with IBS. A green (low FODMAP) food will always be green in a smaller serving size than a standard, but in a larger serving size it can become yellow (moderate FODMAP) and red (high FODMAP). Below is an example of a food where this is the case.

Example: Aubergine/Eggplant

Aubergine is an example of a vegetable that can be both high, moderate and low in FODMAPs depending on the serving size. A normal serving size of 75 grams is low FODMAP, but if you increase the serving size to 185 grams it will be moderate in FODMAPs because the level of Sorbitol increases. If you take a serving size of up to 260 grams it will be high FODMAP, and therefore you must limit the serving size of Aubergine to a max of 185 grams.

This is only the case for Aubergine, and it will be individual for each food, which is also one of the reasons the low FODMAP diet is so difficult.

So to sum up, it is not all that black and white what foods you can eat and in what amount. The point is you need to be very aware of this and use a list of FODMAP foods carefully or have an app to guide you.

Phase 1 of the diet – A good start

You are already on the right path to a good start on the low FODMAP diet if you read the above written information about the diet and the special traffic light system it uses to group all foods. But al this is just basic information about the first phase of the diet and there is a lot more to know. Now you need to know more about the practical approach to the diet. To help with that we have collected some of the best ressources and information on the following pages of this site. Now i will recommend reading about the second and third phase of the diet, but you can also take a closer look on our low FODMAP diet list of foods or our collection of recipes.

Low FODMAP start kit

To help you get started we have made a completely free start kit, which you can get by signing up to our newsletter on the top of this page. With the start kit you receive a complete list of foods, a 7-day meal plan with grocery shopping list and a chart to use for testing of foods, which you can read more about on the next page about phase 2 of the low FODMAP diet.

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